© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Florida LGBTQ leader Jorge Diaz-Johnston found dead in a Jackson County landfill

Black Tallahassee police patrol car parked
Patrick Sternad
WFSU Public Media

Tallahassee resident and Florida LGBTQ leader Jorge Diaz-Johnston recently was found dead in a Jackson County landfill. Diaz-Johnston and his partner were one of the six couples listed as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office that resulted in the county lifting its ban on gay marriage in 2015.

“It was shocking, it was devastating news,” says Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director for Equality Florida, “and the violence of it just amplifies the grief that we’re feeling.”

Pollitzer understands that being involved in that case was not easy on Jorge or his partner Don. “It’s a willingness to put your personal life on a very big stage,” said Pollitzer, “It’s scary, all of the media involved, it’s extremely time-consuming, and it really took tremendous courage.

Diaz-Johnston was last seen on January 3rd near his workplace on Remington Green Circle, but a missing person’s report was not filed until January 8th, the day his body was found.

According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Diaz-Johnston’s body had quote “been in trash collected around 9:30am at the Baker landfill.” The landfill is in Crestview, Florida. The body was then taken to and discovered at a Jackson County landfill by a garbage transportation company. It is unclear where or when Diaz-Johnston died, and how his body ended up first in Okaloosa.

Diaz-Johnston’s brother is Manny Diaz, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party and the former mayor of Miami. Diaz released the following statement:

"I am profoundly appreciative of the outpouring of support shown to me, my brother-in-law Don, and my family after the loss of my brother, Jorge Diaz-Johnston. My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come. I am also so very grateful to the Tallahassee Police Department - with the support of Mayor Dailey and City Manager Goad - who have worked tirelessly to locate and investigate the circumstances surrounding my brother's disappearance. Their commitment has meant the world to my family and will continue to mean the world in our search for justice. We ask for privacy and continued prayers."

The Tallahassee Police Department has taken over the investigation and is treating it as a homicide. They intend to provide more information as it becomes available.

Follow @bgrutherford99

Brett Rutherford is a reporter and news researcher at WFSU Pubic Media. From Riverview, Florida, he has earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Florida State University. During his time at Florida State, he was a reporter within the sports department at WVFS, the student-run on-campus radio station. In 2020, he served as Sports Director during his senior year and hosted the weekly talk show Tomahawk Talk.

Email Brett: brutherford2@fsu.edu